Jamie Dornan films are like buses, His face hasn’t graced the big screen since Fifty Shades of Grey kicked up a storm now just a week after the release of The 9th Life of Louis Drax, and Dornan takes the joint lead alongside Cillian Murphy (Peaky Blinders) in an epic war story Anthropoid.
Directed and co-written by British filmmaker Sean Ellis, who has a major obsession with World War II and has been preparing this film for the past 15 years, has taken a somewhat unheard of true story which leads to the assignation of Reinhard Heydrich, a somewhat important man in Hitler’s regime. In fact, only Hitler and Himmler themselves outranked him. Heydrich was in charge of the occupying forces in Czechoslovakia and was aptly named ‘The Butcher of Prague’.
Based in the icy winter month of December 1941, Josef Gabcik (Murphy) and Jan Kubis (Jamie Dornan) are two parachutist Czech soldiers who have been exiled from their native land. However, they are given a mission, operation Anthropoid, to assassinate the man who everyone saw as Hitler’s successor, Reinhard Heydrich. But this operation is as far a cry away from easy, with a lack of any real intelligence and equipment hampering the men’s mission. The pair makes contact with members of the Czech resistance, Ladislav Vanek (Marcin Dorocinski) and Uncle Hajsky, played by Toby Jones, a man who seems to have delved into every decent film this year. After hearing of the horrifying plan the resistance reluctantly agrees to help the men on their mission.
Anthropoid is very much a story of two halves, with the first spanning over five months, luring the audience into a false sense of security with its timid nature and blossoming love story. In those months Gabcik and Kubis find shelter in the home of resistance member Marie Moravec (Alena Mihulova) and her son, they also embark on a ‘bogus relationship’ with Marie (Charlotte Le Bon) and Lenka (Ana Geislerova) at first just to keep their cover but each of the men fall for these women. It’s not until the assassination attempt takes place that this story explodes with gruesome violence as we are engulfed in the despicable actions of the Nazi reign where women’s heads are grotesquely severed from their bodies and torture methods are ferocious in the aim to find the assassins, resulting in a heroic and touching fight to the death for their freedom.
Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan both put in an equally fine performance from accent to character detriment. Murphy stands out as the man who assumes responsibility, a strong and level headed man who underneath it all is still just a frightened man. Dornan is his complete opposite, a retiring man who thinks with his heart over his head and almost needs hand holding but when the fight comes to him he isn’t afraid to stand tall. There was never any doubt that Murphy would provide a fine performance and it’s safe to say Dornan has finally found his legs.
Anthropoid is out in cinemas September 9.